Concerns that your child has an imaginary friend might be misplaced – Dr Ranj Singh looks at the positive side of a healthy talent for invention
You might be concerned if your child has an imaginary friend – perhaps you think it’s associated with being lonely or having social issues, and having to resort to creating their very own friend in their head.
But this concern isn’t necessary as imaginary friends are a very normal part of childhood. While as adults we can forget the power of the young imagination, this can actually highlight some of your child’s mental strengths. Imaginary friends can be a coping mechanism for social transitions used by children who are bright, lively, imaginative, and healthy, as well as a way for them to orientate themselves in the world around them.
In fact, some Psychologists call this phenomenon of creating imaginary friends or even worlds as ‘paracosm’.
Whilst parents need not get too worried, they should intervene if the imaginary friend becomes disruptive, but on the whole, it should be no cause for concern.
Children usually grow out of this phase by the time they go to school, although it is different for everyone. If they do become inappropriate or disturbing, then professional help should be sought to address any possible underlying issues.
Voice: Dr Ranj Singh